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Momentum to Curb Summer Learning Loss Grows Nationally

Even as summer enters into its final stretch, growing attention is drawn to summer learning loss and its harmful impact to youth. This past weekend, National Public Radio's well-known show, All Things Considered, featured an episode on summer learning loss and what efforts are underway to combat it.

In addition to interviewing summer learning loss expert Karl Alexander, the show profiles Horizons, a national summer program that serves low-income students for consecutive summers, some for as many as nine. Horizons students spend six weeks on a school or college campus taking hands-on, academic classes, and participating in enrichment activities. There are 33 Horizons sites nationally.

Opportunities like Horizons are not available everywhere, or to everyone. Southern California Public Radio reported in a recent piece that many parents are struggling to find affordable summer opportunities, or even free resources and ideas, to keep their children's minds engaged while they aren't attending school.

The solution in some places has been to change the structure of school. As Jennifer Davis from the National Center on Time & Learning mentions on NPR, the expanded learning time movement is helping some schools reduce learning loss over the summer months.

Davis' comments coincide with a recent piece in the Hechinger Report which profiles places that have already sent their students back to school, in an effort to reduce the long block of summer vacation. Longer breaks are instead parceled out throughout the year.

These efforts have grown larger than individual schools or districts, however. Forty schools in five states—Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Colorado—will now be adding least 300 hours to the year starting next month, as part of the expanded learning initiative I wrote about here.

Outside of that five-state collaborative, a 13-member task force in Texas, commissioned by the state legislature, is now examining how Texas schools can add learning time to their school calendar. According to an article in the Texas Tribune, 12 public schools in Fort Worth and Houston already have an ELT model in place.

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